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Sarver: “The switch has flipped” and time for Suns to start winning

Suns owner Robert Sarver went on the radio yesterday and confirmed what we all had heard: he is tired of losing

Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Of course you want your favorite team’s owner to want desperately to win games.

You don’t want him to be okay with losing in any way, shape or form.

But when you hear Phoenix Suns’ owner Robert Sarver fired his front office because he’s ready for the Suns to start winning again, the whole comment seems hollow.

“I think we’re at the end of a rebuild,” he said to Burns and Gambo on 98.7 FM after firing McDonough and most of the front office. “For me, the switch has flipped and it’s now time to start figuring out how to win.”

After McDonough was on the phone all weekend with other teams’ GMs and front office folks, and after he watched his Suns team practice on Sunday morning, the Suns’ now-former GM was apparently fired by the team’s owner over the phone later that day.

No one got the scoop before the Suns sent out the press release at 9:03AM on Monday morning, October 8.

Word is that the Suns’ owner just simply, and suddenly, was ready for a sweeping change in the front office.

And that’s fine. But the timing is of course more than a little suspect.

If Sarver thinks the Suns are “at the end of the rebuild” and that it’s now time to win, they’re only at the end of that rebuild SINCE the last time the team played a meaningful game.

In no way can the team’s owner think last year’s team had the pieces to win a lot of games. It’s only after hiring a real coach in Igor Kokoskov, drafting of #1 overall pick Deandre Ayton this summer, and the acquisitions of Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson, that you can possibly look at this team and think they can figure out how to win.

And all those moves were made by the guy he fired on Sunday.

And none of those moves had a chance to prove they worked. McDonough made those moves but was fired before they even played a game that counted.


Why would Sarver do this NOW?

Because McDonough didn’t quite go far enough this summer to make the team a clear winner out of the gate.

“In this business it’s about winning and/or consistent progress,” Sarver said to Burns and Gambo. “We discussed a number of opportunities I felt were realistic. Ultimately for me, the rate of progress wasn’t there where I thought it needed to be.”

How have the Suns shown lack of progress since the summer?


“I felt we needed to make the absolute most of the opportunity in front of us, and decided to make a change.”

Can Sarver be talking about anything BUT the point guard situation?

Sure, it’s possible that Sarver is unhappy with the moves made over the summer outside of the drafting of Ayton, who he called a future All-Star in the interview.

Warriors GM Bob Myers said on NBATV on Monday night that he liked the Suns’ signings of Trevor Ariza and acquisition of Anderson. Ariza and Anderson combined for 35 points on Monday night against Myers’ Warriors, including 8 of 15 threes.

Could the Suns have spent their money and trade assets more wisely?

  • Out: $15 million, Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss, 2021 unprotected pick, 2018 #16 pick (Zaire Smith), Jared Dudley
  • In: Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, Mikal Bridges, De’Anthony Melton, Richaun Holmes, the contract of Darrell Arthur

Ariza and Bridges somewhat cancel each other out, and De’Anthony Melton might not be ready for prime time before his two-year contract expires.

Still, it’s hard to argue the Suns aren’t better up and down the lineup and along the sideline, with Igor Kokoskov running the show and Deandre Ayton manning the middle.

But Sarver fired McDonough and most of his front office and scouting department on Sunday after only three preseason games to show their “progress”. It’s okay for twitter, reddit and blog fans to over-react to a few preseason games, but is it okay for the team’s owner to do it too?

This whole mess stinks.

I reached out to several NBA folks across the nation on Monday, some tied to the Suns organization in the past and some without any ties at all.

None disagree with the decision (it was right to fire McDonough for the past five years on the whole) but they all disagreed — okay, outright laughed — at the timing of it.

Sarver’s argument is that the timing of this firing is no better or worse than any other. And ESPN head said that this is possibly GOOD timing, since the prep cycle for next offseason starts now and not in April, when most firings actually happen.

Sarver also said he likes the moves the Suns made this summer, including the hiring of Igor, acquisition of vets, drafting of the four rookies.

He just wanted more.

“I wanted to make a change to facilitate our next step.”

So, he wants the whole franchise to switch the mindset from ‘hunker down and focus on youth’ to ‘win now’.

The point guard is the remaining huge hole on the roster.

“I would say it’s definitely at the top of the list,” Sarver said about James Jones first order of business.

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